Durban – Senior leaders of eThekwini Municipality met on Saturday to negotiate new “working conditions” for Sipho Nzuza, the director of the besieged city who was arrested again this week for allegedly violating his conditions of employment. out on bail.
A strong commitment is expected when Nzuza’s last special leave request is tabled at a plenary council meeting on Monday.
The latest request for special permission was triggered by Nzuza’s subsequent court appearance earlier this week, which left him with stricter bail conditions and less some of his prior powers.
Nzuza found himself languishing in the quagmire of personal work-related issues for much of 2020. This after his arrest in March on charges of fraud and corruption.
The charges relate to the Durban Solid Waste tender fiasco of Rand 430 million, the awarding of contracts allegedly under questionable circumstances to various contractors in 2017.
Nzuza, along with former mayor Zandile Gumede and 16 others, are the accused in this case. Nzuza had already been released on 50,000 rand.
He was put on special leave for six months after his arrest while the city conducted its internal investigation, which is not yet complete.
On September 28, he returned to work.
However, allegations have since surfaced that he failed to meet some of his bail conditions, hence his arrest on Monday and his appearance before the Durban Commercial Crimes Court.
He appeared before Magistrate Garth Davis and Colonel Ngoako Mphaki explained why Nzuza had been arrested again.
After receiving complaints that Nzuza flouted his bail conditions, Mphaki said his investigations revealed that he had been in contact with witnesses in the DSW case and that he had organized and chaired four virtual meetings in which said witnesses were participants.
His other alleged bail violations included that he was aware of the affairs of the city’s Integrity and Investigations Unit (CIIU), which included people involved in the DSW case.
And, although he delegated his authority over supply chain management (SCM) tasks, Mphaki claimed that Nzuza always issued tenders and also approved tenders.
Mphaki said, “At all of the virtual meetings, RFPs were discussed and he wanted to be kept up to date with all developments regarding DC meetings.”
Magistrate Davis asked why Nzuza did not use the proper channels to clarify his bail conditions, including his hired legal team.
Nzuza’s bail conditions were further changed, which now prevents his involvement in disciplinary cases. It should also not be directly or indirectly involved in an SCM process.
Davis reminded him of the context in which his bail conditions were set, and if he violated them he ran the risk of being overturned and remaining in custody for the duration of the trial.
Nzuza told the Sunday Tribune yesterday that “inaccurate” media reports described him as an “unruly” public servant.
He maintained that he had complied with his bail conditions. He said he had asked for more special leave, which must be approved by the whole Council.
“I will meet with the mayor and senior officials to discuss my working conditions which will allow me to do my job without violating the bail conditions.
“I have decided to take additional special leave until my next court appearance on December 10, when my bail conditions may be changed.
“To make sure I didn’t rape any of them, I decided to stay at home to avoid being arrested,” he said.
Mluleki Mntungwa, spokesman for the mayor, was not ready to divulge the outcome of yesterday’s meeting between Nzuza and Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda.
Opposition parties have called for transparency from the city’s leaders, as the Nzuza affair would be the focus of tomorrow’s meeting.
Nicole Graham, head of the DA caucus, said they had called for Nzuza’s impeachment, but he was protected by the ruling party, the ANC.
“They (the leaders) must let the elected council decide the fate of Nzuza. The mayor acted as the director of Nzuza, which is wrong. He acted in violation of his bail conditions, signing offers.
“We also called for his removal from all supply chain and finance functions. Tomorrow we expect the board to make a decision in the best interests of the taxpayer, ”Graham said.
Mdu Nkosi, head of the IFP caucus, said it was up to the ANC to remove the city director from the majority on the council: “There is no transparency. There are infighting within the ruling party. It is sad that the taxpayers are the ones who suffer. Nzuza called on the ANC to act with conscience, ”Nkosi said.